Flu vs. COVID-19: The Differences & Similarities

flu vs. COVID-19Flu season is upon us once again. While in previous years it has been common to experience coughing, sneezing and sniffles during this season, this year brings added layers of stress and worry with COVID-19 concerns. How do you know if the symptoms you or an employee are experiencing can be attributed to the flu or COVID-19?

While the flu and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses, there are some key differences, as well as similarities between the two. The following outline of flu and COVID-19 symptoms comes directly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Common symptoms that COVID-19 and the flu share include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache

Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
One symptom that some people experience with COVID-19 that differs from the flu is the loss of taste and/or smell. Additionally, flu symptoms typically set in much sooner than those of COVID-19.

Employees might feel scared or concerned when symptoms first present themselves and worry about who they could have exposed. And while these feelings are understandable, it is important to remember that employees are people first. As a manager or business owner, treat them first and foremost with empathy and kindness, then determine what actions need to be taken to ensure the safety of your staff.

Out of an abundance of caution, if an employee begins to experience any of the symptoms above, it is important that the said employee quarantine from shared office space. Encourage the employee to seek medical care if symptoms worsen, as well as testing if they suspect they might have COVID-19.

For additional information on flu symptoms versus COVID-19 symptoms, please visit the CDC self-checker website.

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